Daily Worship

All you need is love

January 27, 2021 3
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John 21: 15-17 (NRSVA)

15 When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?’ He said to him, ‘Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Feed my lambs.’ 16 A second time he said to him, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me?’ He said to him, ‘Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Tend my sheep.’ 17 He said to him the third time, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me?’ Peter felt hurt because he said to him the third time, ‘Do you love me?’ And he said to him, ‘Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Feed my sheep.

There is a profound symmetry between the threefold denials of Jesus by Peter and the threefold affirmations of Peter by Jesus. In response, I find myself singing a new line to the Beatles’ song: “Nothing you can break that can’t be healed…all you need is love”.  But what kind of love? You see, there is something even more profound in this exchange between Jesus and Peter, which we miss in English translations of John 21. In the Greek, the word for 'love' used by the two men is different. ‘Agape’ is unconditional love, as emanates from God; whilst ‘philo’ is the strong, loving bond between friends.

Jesus: Do you agape me more than these?

Peter: Yes, Lord, you know that I philo you.

Jesus: Do you agape me?

Peter: Yes, Lord, you know that I philo you.

Jesus: Do you philo me?

Peter: You know that I philo you.

The healing love of God does not demand of us more than we can give. Instead, God meets us where we are and invites us into the work of God’s Kingdom, redeeming and restoring us in the process. That is the kind of love we all need.

PRAYER:

Healing God,
When we cannot run, help us to walk.
When we cannot walk, help us to crawl.
When we cannot crawl, help us to rest.
When we cannot rest, give us your peace. AMEN.